— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 24, 2016
In the days leading up to and after Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union, one of the main questions that's still being debated is why people in Britain would want to leave the E.U. in the first place.
Voters on both sides of the "leave" and "remain" camp have voiced varied reasons for their votes. But some polls suggest that the most important issue that concerned Brexit voters had to do with immigration.
The video above suggests that at least some Brexit supporters voted to leave the E.U. to prevent Muslims from immigrating to Britain. In the video, reporter Ciaran Jenkins from Channel 4 News spoke with an unidentified man from Barnsley, England, who explained that his motivation for leaving the E.U. had to do with preventing Muslims from immigrating to Britain. The majority of people from Barnsley voted to leave the E.U.
The unidentified man said: "It's all about immigration. It's not about trade or Europe or anything like that, it's all about immigration. It's to stop the Muslims coming into this country. Simple as that."
Jenkins followed up and asked: "Do you think you voted to leave the E.U. to stop Muslims coming to the country?" The man replied: "To stop immigration. The movement of people in Europe, fair enough. But not from Africa, Syria, Iraq, everywhere else, it's all wrong.
During the interview, Jenkins reported hearing people in the background shout "send them home."
Been standing here five minutes. Three different people have shouted "send them home". pic.twitter.com/cVvmYvC73o
— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) June 24, 2016
A Pew Research study conducted in 2015 found that the Muslim population has been steadily increasing, with more than 3 million Muslims now living in Britain. And it also found that as 0f 2010, the E.U. was home to 13 million Muslim immigrants. Negative perceptions toward Muslims have also been recorded. A study conducted in the same year by YouGov found that more half – 56 percent to be exact – of British people think Islam poses a "major" or "some" threat to Western liberal democracy.
If these concerns did motivate a significant portion of the "leave" vote, those voters may be disappointed. Since areas such as Africa, Syria and Iraq aren't in the E.U., voting yes on the referendum won't directly affect immigrants from those countries, since E.U. freedom of movement rules don't apply to them already.
Arguably, the groups that have been affected most by the immigration debate have been those from Eastern European countries such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Since those countries are part of the 28-member bloc, as long as Britain is part of the E.U., they are allowed to live and work there. As my colleague Max Bearak noted, there have been a rise in racist incidents reported after the Brexit vote.
And just recently, the BBC reported on how a Polish boy found a card that suggested that he "leave the E.U." and "go home."